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Chemical Spills in Wetzel County, Pine Grove Residents Told Not To Use Water

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A hazardous chemical was spilled just upstream from the pubic water intake for Pine Grove, West Virginia.

Oil and gas company MarkWest owns the facility from which the chemical leaked. The company took water samples Saturday, but it’s not clear where those samples were taken from. Calls to the town of Pine Grove are directed to a MarkWest employee, who said state and local officials are working closely with the company to determine the best course of action.

Updated February 26, 4:50 p.m.:

MarkWest issued a statement today with the latest estimates of fluid leaked from it's Mobley facility. The company estimates 260 gallons leaked from a valve at the facility. About 45 additional water samples have been taken. Of those at least 11 were taken from homes and businesses and all of those tested negative for heat transfer oil.

Remediation efforts are ongoing. The company reports that environmental response personnel working with the Pine Grove Water Works are continuing to remediate affected tanks at the water treatment facility, as well as provide alternate water supplies to make sure the system remains in full service in the interim. MarkWest so far delivered 90,000 gallons of water to unaffected holding tanks.

Updated February 22, 7:30 p.m.:

MarkWest released a statement today saying that the company is continuing to work with local and county officials to manage their spill. "A broad set of additional local water samples have been drawn Sunday and today and full analysis is now being prepared," the statement said. A company spokesperson, Patrick Creighton, also said an investigation is ongoing and as of today it's still unclear how long the leak existed and how much exactly was spilled. He also added that there was a lot of ground between the leaking pipe and the stream that was contaminated.

MarkWest is still encouraging Pine Grove residents to have their water tested by contacting the 24-hour response hotline number [304-212-0172]. Public health experts are also available via the response hotline to answer any community questions.

The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection hasn't issued any violations to date, saying enforcement is still under evaluation.

Updated February 21, 10 p.m.:

The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection distributed spill estimates from MarkWest this evening. The company estimates 3,000 gallons of the chemical DOWTHERM™ MX Heat Transfer Fluid spilled from the Mobley system. The company hasn't determined how much was contained nor how much made it to the stream.

"The downstream migration of the material is being controlled by approximately 15 locations where shore boom and absorbent boom are being used to collect and contain the material," said the note from DEP.

MarkWest is planning to continue to sample and evaluate stream contamination, as well as "work with the city of Pine Grove to devise a sampling plan for the water plant and the distribution system."

MarkWest also released a statement Sunday evening saying “Initial sampling results suggests that while heat transfer oil did reach the inlet of the Pine Grove fresh water treatment facility, the oil was contained within the facility and did not enter the public drinking water.”

From MarkWest:

Much more extensive sampling is being conducted and residents are invited to call [304-212-0172] if they want their residence’s water individually tested. Specifically, third-party experts are undertaking a broad range of public and private drinking water samples – a service which is available to all Pine Grove residents by calling– which will follow an established quality assurance plan, as required by U.S. EPA. MarkWest will communicate water sample results with residents as they become available. Additionally, out of abundance of caution and at the request of the Pine Grove Mayor and town officials, residents can also utilize the phone number listed above [304-212-0172] to speak directly with third-party public health experts, should they have any questions or concerns.

Updated February 21, 4 p.m.:  

West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection spokesperson Kelley Gillenwater says water samples collected, "came back non-detect upstream of the release.  There was a detect in Fishing Creek at Pine Grove, detects in the lift station and reserve tank at the water treatment plant, but non-detect in the water treatment plant's floc tank.  So it appears that only the intake portion of the plant was contaminated, not the treatment side or distribution system. Testing continues though."

Analysis of the samples has been reported to local and state officials but has not yet been disseminated to the public.

When: The spill was discovered Saturday morning by MarkWest employees. How long the chemical was being released is unclear.

What: DOWTHERM™ MX Heat Transfer Fluid. This is a chemical used as as a heat transfer fluid meant for closed-loop systems. The supplied Material Data Safety Sheet identifies the fluid as a hazardous chemical, indicating: “May be fatal if swallowed and enters airways; fatal if inhaled.”

How much: A chemical processing facility at MarkWest’s Mobley-W.Va. site holds 10,000 gallons.  “MarkWest officials are unsure how much hit the ground and how much is still contained,” according to the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection.

Where:  DEP reports, “the chemical was released through a valve that failed and entered storm drains. This leads to the facility's ‘stormceptor’ which holds its storm water.”  The material was released from the MarkWest facility into a small tributary of the North Fork of Fishing Creek. The tributary is upstream of the Pine Grove public water intake.

Who does this affect: The Wetzel Chronicle reports 360 households have been notified of the spill and asked to only use water to flush toilets.

Response: The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection, Mark West employees, and local officials are responding at the scene. DEP reports that environmental contractors Ryan Environmental and Energy Transportation LLC are on site handling cleanup. They have booms set up for several miles of stream. Mark West has collected several water samples and sent them to an official state lab in Beckley for analysis. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the state Department of Health and Human Resources are also involved.

MarkWest has provided bottled water, which is available at the Byrd Center (992 North Fork Road, Pine Grove, W.Va.)

Mark West issued these statements in response to the spill:

February 20, 2016 - 8:30 p.m.

Pine Grove, W.Va. – Over the past 12 hours, MarkWest Energy Partners has deployed more than 75 employees and contractors to Pine Grove for spill response, distribution of bottled water at The Byrd Center and to provide assistance in the door-to-door notification of each of the 360 households in the community about the event. Pine Grove officials have also notified each resident via their reverse 9-1-1 system of a water conservation advisory, asking residents to only use water for sanitation purposes (i.e. flushing the toilet). Water sampling and testing is ongoing. While an investigation is underway on the cause of the release, MarkWest’s singular focus has been on making sure our neighbors in Pine Grove have a source of clean water and the heat transfer oil is fully cleaned up from the North Fork of Fishing Creek. As we previously reported, Pine Grove has been able to switch over to an alternate source of clean water and MarkWest has provided bottled water, which is available at the Byrd Center (992 North Fork Road, Pine Grove, W.Va.) MarkWest has deployed the following equipment and personnel to the area, with additional equipment and personnel on standby if needed: ·         10 booms have been deployed between the release location and the Pine Grove Water Works water intake. Additional boom will be deployed downstream as a precaution. ·         6 vacuum trucks. ·        75 + MarkWest personnel and contractors. ·         3 trucks of water thus far – one tractor-trailer and two flat beds. MarkWest would like to thank the local first responders and Mayor Justice for their support and cooperation and the residents of Pine Grove for working with us as we resolve this matter.

February 20, 2:21 p.m.:

Pine Grove, W.Va. – At approximately 8:30 a.m., MarkWest Energy Partners' personnel identified a release of heat transfer oil at our Mobley gas processing facility in Wetzel County, West Virginia. Federal and state regulatory agencies have been notified and MarkWest is coordinating its response efforts with the agencies and local officials. While we are working to determine the volume of the release, we can confirm that heat transfer oil has reached the North Fork of Fishing Creek. MarkWest is working with environmental professionals and has deployed protective booms in the creek at a number of locations. The Pine Grove Water Works water intake located downstream from the release site has been closed by local officials and Pine Grove has switched over to an alternate source of water as a precaution. MarkWest has activated our spill response plan and will provide additional water to the Town of Pine Grove, if needed. Additionally, MarkWest has two trucks of bottled water arriving at The Byrd Center in Pine Grove at approximately 2:30 p.m. Additional information will be provided to the public, through the news media, as it becomes available.


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